The recent Talk Business poll showing Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) way ahead in the Arkansas US Senate contest appears to be an outlier. Two new polls show the race easily within the toss-up category. The CBS/NYT/YouGov survey gives Cotton a five point advantage (47/42) whereas NBC News/ Marist’s offering shows the Republican barely ahead (45/43).
For the sake of brevity, let’s look only at the latter (and closer) poll:
(1) Voter breakdown: Both candidates have seemingly locked up their hardcore supporters. But Cotton leads among men (51/36) and Pryor among women (49/38). Significantly, however, Cotton has a modest lead among non-party aligned voters (43/37). This latter voting bloc will likely determine the outcome of the race.
(2) Approval ratings: Quoth the poll’s director Dr. Lee M. Miringham: [P]ryor has higher negatives than Cotton. In fact, Pryor’s rating, unlike Cotton’s, is upside down.”
The actual approval/disapproval figures: Cotton: 46/43; Pryor: 41/49.
(3) The Obama effect: The president’s approval rating is underwater by 16 percentage points (31/57). This isn’t an all-time low, but 93 percent of Republicans -- and 25 percent of Democrats -- give him unfavorable marks.
In other news, as Guy informed us yesterday, pro-Pryor partisans have injected some nasty campaign tactics into the mix to help their candidate. Read the literature for yourselves. The mindset seems to be if Democrats can scare enough African-Americans into voting against Cotton, Pryor might just carry the day. It’s a cynical and cheap tactic – but much like the not-so-subtle charge that Republican policies actually harm women, it has its advantages.
I’ll leave you with this Team Cotton, “Friday Night Lights”-themed campaign ad/documentary. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, at least watch the first few minutes, which explains why Cotton ultimately decided to join the US Army: